Welcome to the Summer of Westbrook. From all indications, it will be an abbreviated slice of the summer.
With Paul George having been traded to the Clippers to team up with Kawhi Leonard, teams from all corners of the NBA are calling Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti to see what it would take to acquire the 30-year-old triple-double machine.
And in the wild, wild West also known as the sports gambling market, offshore sportsbooks are already posting odds on where Westbrook will end up (no, you won’t find those odds on legal US books).
For those of you in Miami who feel it is a fait accompli that he will end up teaming up with Jimmy Butler on the Heat, that is on the board right now at 4-1. The New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder as co-favorites at 2-1; the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets at 6-1; and the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7-1. (All wagers are contingent on which team Westbrook will be a member of on Day 1 of the 2019-20 season.)
Westbrook, the first draft pick in OKC franchise history (after they moved from Seattle), is the 2016-17 MVP who has averaged triple-doubles in each of the past three seasons. He is drawing attention from all corners of the NBA, a source close to the situation told TheLines.com. Presti is being “inundated” by offers from different teams that are coming in on an hourly basis … and being made face-to-face at Las Vegas Summer League, where representatives of all 30 NBA ownership groups are in town for the NBA Board of Governors meeting.
“Russell wants to be with a contender,” said a source privy to many of the conversations taking place.
Clearly, the offshores are being premature with their lines with so many moving parts. But the sports gambling market is what it is, so let’s take a look at the odds that are on the board:
- OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (2-1) — C’mon, really? The only way this happens is if the Thunder determine that the best possible offer could be coming from a team that added free agents over the summer … and who cannot be traded until Dec. 15. Plausible, but given the emotional dynamics of this situation, the talk around the league is that this deal will happen sooner rather than later.
- NEW YORK KNICKS (2-1) — They spent all of their cap money on an assortment of role players, so the only way this makes sense is if many of those role players can be packaged together to bring in Westbrook, who would welcome the spotlight of being the headline attraction at Madison Square Garden, right down the street from the Fashion District. But remember, those odds are for Game 1 of the regular season. So this doesn’t really make sense.
- MIAMI HEAT (4-1) — This is the team that seems to make the most sense, and it is the team ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski focused on in his latest column for ESPN. The Heat have already acquired one star in Jimmy Butler, although they had to surrender an unprotected 2023 first round draft pick in product in order to do so. That means that if they were to include an unprotected draft pick, it would have to be in 2025. As far as making salaries match, packaging Justice Winslow and Goran Dragic works in the ESPN trade machine, but OKC would likely insist on Bam Adebayo … and that would seem like a non-starter for Pat Riley, whose believes his new starting center will blossom into an All-Star.
- DETROIT PISTONS (6-1) — All the reports from Pistons beat writers covering the team in Las Vegas seem to indicate that this is almost absurd, because making the salaries match would involve including Andre Drummond, who is pretty much the franchise cornerstone at this moment. Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway (both on expiring contracts) and Luke Kennard works in the NBA trade machine, and Detroit general manager Ed Stefanski does not owe any first-round draft picks. So this one makes some sense … if Russ could handle being a fashion icon in The D.
- HOUSTON ROCKETS (6-1) — Never, ever, ever, ever underestimate Daryl Morey, who has proven time and again that he will go to any lengths to turn over a roster. Problem is, Morey has James Harden and Chris Paul locked in at max salaries, and making a deal work cap-wise without including one of them is next to impossible. (Clint Capela and Eric Gordon falls short). If Westbrook were to end up here, it would have to be in a three-team scenario, and some other team would have to take a chance on Paul, who is on a max contract.
- MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (7-1) — Jeff Teague is on a $19 million expiring contract, and cap-clogger Gorgui Dieng would have to be included along with draft picks. New boss Gersson Rosas does not owe any first-round picks, so he could put two or three in a deal that would pair Westbrook with Karl-Anthony Towns (when he is not trying to pawn off Andrew Wiggins, whom he appears t be stuck with). The upside for Westbrook? Fashionistas wear winter clothing, too.
Of course, the landing spot of one of the league’s most dynamic players will have a substantial impact on the futures betting markets. Stay up to date on the NBA offseason by following our NBA Free Agency Betting Guide where you’ll find updated moves, odds and win totals for every team.